Strep Throat: Symptoms and Home Remedies
One of the most common infections, particularly among children, is strep throat, and due to its contagious nature, it is important to recognize the symptoms quickly, and also know home remedies for the infection, including the use of salt water, garlic, cayenne, apple cider vinegar, licorice root, honey, peppermint, and fenugreek tea, among others.
Caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria, strep throat is a fairly common infection that attacks the back of the throat, including the tonsils, and is spread through respiratory droplets – such as saliva and sneezing – which can be picked up from any surface and spread by touching the eyes, mouth or nose. The ease with which this infection can be spread makes it particularly common in schools and among children, who have yet to develop proper hygiene protocols. While there are certain possible complications, such as rheumatoid fever, this infection can usually be taken care of rapidly, without any permanent damage. Following exposure to the Streptococcus bacteria, the infection usually manifests in less than three days, and can last for a week or more, particularly in severe cases.
Some of the most common symptoms of strep throat include fever, enlarged lymph node in the neck, difficult or painful swallowing, red tonsils and a constantly sore throat, as well as headaches and nausea in some cases. While many people simply think a “sore throat” is an oncoming illness, cold or a symptom of a flu, strep throat of some kind is responsible for up to 40% of “sore throats” in children. For this reason, if your child (or you) is displaying these symptoms and complaining of a worse than normal sore throat, there is a very good chance they have contracted the infection and medical attention should be sought out. In the past, parents have commonly turned to antibiotics to quickly eliminate the infection, but repeated visits to the doctor for this condition, combined with antibiotic resistance over time, has caused some people to turn to home remedies, which can be highly effective. Furthermore, since there is a very small chance of this infection increasing in severity or endangering your life, natural remedies are a wise choice.
Home Remedies for Strep Throat
Garlic: As with so many other ailments, one of the most effective and fast-acting home remedies for strep throat is a clove of garlic. While this hardly sounds appetizing, if you are suffering with this infection, you can cut a garlic clove in half and suck on it, occasionally swallowing and allowing your saliva to carry the garlic’s natural compounds down into the throat. Garlic contains allicin as its active ingredient, which has powerful antibacterial properties and can also reduce inflammation, thus helping soothe the painful burning in your throat and attacking the underlying infection.
Salt Water: Few remedies are as simple or successful as a salt water gargle when it comes to naturally treating a strep throat. The taste is anything but pleasant, but it can quickly suck the water from the inflamed tissues and cells in your throat, easing the pressure and making it easier to swallow. Salt is also very effective at breaking up mucus, so any associated congestion from the infection in your sinuses can be cleared out as well, speeding the healing process.
Chamomile Tea: Not only is chamomile a soothing and delicious beverage, but it also has certain antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, which can help it eliminate strep throat very quickly. Chamomile tea is known to boost the immune system to fend off the underlying infection, while the astringent properties can help relieve the raw, narrow feeling in your throat that makes swallowing so painful.
Honey: As a natural healing agent, honey is packed with important minerals, antioxidants and organic compounds that can boost overall health. However, there is a very good reason why people put honey in their tea so often; it naturally coats the throat and relieves inflammation and pain, being an analgesic. This can reduce the irritation in the throat and also stimulate the healing process by neutralizing dangerous bacteria.
Lemon and Water: Many of the best remedies for strep throat include gargling, and mixing lemon and water is also highly effective. Gargling this mixture can soothe the throat and also deliver citric acid and antibacterial effects to the inflamed areas, helping you to get relief and ward off the bacteria.
Ginger: Ginger is a powerful antioxidant compound with an active ingredient called gingerol, which has immune-boosting properties and can easily defend against the bacteria that causes strep throat. Let ginger soak in water overnight and then gargle each morning; it will not only clear your sinuses, but also help eliminate the bacterial infection more quickly.
Cayenne: It may seem counterintuitive to put cayenne pepper in your throat, given how spicy it can be, but in reality, capsaicin (the active ingredient in most peppers) is an excellent analgesic and anti-inflammatory substance. Mix some cayenne pepper with water and gargle for 10-20 seconds and feel the irritation of strep throat disappear!
Steam Inhalation: As with many respiratory problems, inhaling steam deep into your lungs can help to loosen congestion and works as an expectorant. Since excess coughing and congestion can wear on the throat, further irritating the inflamed tissues, getting this congestion out is crucial, particularly because the bacteria often seeks out mucus to multiply and thrive.
Apple Cider Vinegar: There is an extremely high level of acidity in apple cider vinegar, which means that it can effectively eliminate bacteria, and it has long been known as an immune system booster. Mixing a bit of apple cider vinegar into lukewarm water and gargling with it 1-2 times per day can speed the recovery process of strep throat.
Peppermint: One of the key ingredients in peppermint that delivers so many of its health benefits if menthol, which is well known to cut through mucus and soothe the throat, reducing the urge to cough, which would further irritate the inflamed tissues. Peppermint oil mixed with water can be an excellent way to reduce inflammation and speed healing.
Turmeric: With its legendary active ingredient curcumin, turmeric remains a popular remedy for almost every affliction you can think of. The incredible antioxidant potential of turmeric is an instant boost for the immune system and can quickly knock out the infection causing strep throat, while also reducing inflammation in the throat and easing pain, as a result of its analgesic properties.
Licorice Root: A very effective tea for curing strep throat can be made with licorice root, as it functions as a cough suppressant. The irritation of strep throat can cause excessive coughing, which then makes the throat more inflamed, forming a vicious cycle. A cup of this tea, however, and the urge to cough will disappear.
Final Word of Warning: While strep throat is often considered “harmless”, remember that it is highly contagious for 2-3 weeks without the use of antibiotics, and special care should be taken when sending a child back to school. Severe pain or long-lasting symptoms should definitely be presented to a doctor, and antibiotics should be considered, particularly if this is the first time strep throat has been contracted.